Paternity Cases in San Diego in 2013: 7 Issues Unmarried Mothers Can Make

While simply being an unmarried mother in San Diego is certainly and most definitely no longer regarded as an issue in itself, there are many common issues that can cause significant problems for everyone involved.

Issue #1: Making a Unilateral Decision to Have a Baby
Having a child is a lifetime responsibility for both parents, financially, emotionally and physically. It isn’t fair for one parent to make the decision to bring a baby into the world and to impose the responsibility for that decision onto the other parent without their knowledge or approval. This is not a moral or legal issue as the law in San Diego is clear that a child’s best interests is to have a strong bond with both parents and to have frequent and continuing contact with both mother and father. Given the biology of pregnancy and child bearing, clearly the mother will make the decision whether to have a child rests with the mother before birth.

Issue #2: Mistakenly Naming the Wrong Father
Having multiple sexual relationships without practicing birth control can lead to legal issues in the future. Again, this is not a moral or legal issue and only one of the best interest of the child if the father is unknown or identified properly. Before DNA testing was a common practice, parents often relied on “who a child looked like.” Many children experienced significant emotional trauma when lack of sufficient family resemblance drove a wedge between them and their fathers. If a child believes a man is their father, and this turns out later to be incorrect, then the child will suffer for not knowing their true father and may feel emotions of abandonment.

Issue #3: Deliberately Naming the Wrong Father
More than a few women have deliberately pursued a sexual relationship with a “better” potential father after they’re already pregnant by one who may not have the financial means to support the child. DNA testing will reveal the truth, and leads to hard feelings and potential consequences to the child as above. The child may even blame the mother for not being able to have a relationship with the “true” father.

Issue #4: Encouraging the Wrong Father to Claim Paternity
A common situation occurs when a pregnant woman changes boyfriends. The new boyfriend, eager to join the family, signs on the birth certificate, calls himself “daddy” and they all plan to live happily ever after. In reality, the romance may end in a few months or years, and the boyfriend learns it’s too late to set aside the responsibility for paying child support. This may lead to a severing of the parent {father} child relationship and detriment to the child.

Issue #5: Assuming that Remaining Unmarried Gives You Full Control
Many women believe that establishing paternity entitles them to receive financial support for the child, but remaining unmarried automatically gives the mother full custody and control. Paternity encompasses three factors: support, visitation, and custody. Besides being financially responsible for support, fathers have the right to visitation and participation in parental decisions. They may also request and obtain physical custody if it is determined by the court to be in the child’s best interest. This is a “package deal” and it is not possible to obtain child support but deny parental rights for custody and visitation after a judgment of paternity is entered.

Issue #6: Denying Visitation
Whether or not parents are married or established in a long-term relationship, it is important for a child to have a relationship with both parents. Denying visitation can have serious legal consequences, and has even been known to result in a change in physical custody of a child. As above, the law really does not care about the parents and only about the “best interests” of the child which includes frequent and continuing contact, stability and bonding among others. Case studies have shown that children can resent a parent who denies their contact with their other parent. While this may make your life better in the short term [do not have to deal with the other parent’s involvement in the child’s life and yours], it may have severe consequences in the long term.

Issue #7: Listening to the Wrong Advice
Friends and family are quick to offer advice to the single mother. But listening to the wrong advice can have serious consequences. It is important to obtain impartial, independent and expert advice. Your best source of legal advice is a qualified, knowledgeable San Diego divorce lawyer.

For a free initial consultation about paternity issues, contact our office online or call us at 858-312-8500. We can help you protect your rights and avoid the common mistakes made by other women in your situation.